The ‘secret codes and family favours’ of Unaoil’s bribe money trail

first_imgUnaoil used intermediary companies and secret codes to hide its bribery paymentsJurors at London’s Southwark Crown Court have heard how Unaoil paid a man called Oday Al Quoraishi – an employee of the state-owned South Oil Company – to manipulate and leak information about tender agreements issued as part of a government strategy to boost Iraq’s crude export capacity.The programme, known as the Iraq Crude Oil Export Expansion Project (ICOEEP), was intended to more than double the country’s crude exports from 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) to 4.5 million bpd.Using connections like Al Quoraishi and another SOC employee called Dhia Jaffar Al Mousawi, Unaoil operated as a go-between for companies looking to secure work contracts in the expansion project and the government officials who offered them.Al Quoraishi was said to be the consultancy’s key asset in this process, and Mr Brompton described to the court the lengths to which Unaoil went in order to disguise the nature of the payments made to him – a figure ultimately totalling $608,000.The SOC insider was paid a $6,000 monthly retainer for his services, as well as two initial $5,000 payments and a one-off lump sum of $400,000 paid in February 2011.But he did not receive these as direct transactions from Unaoil, said the prosecutor.“Instead, Unaoil transferred funds to an intermediary company – Al Kassim Technical Services FZC – based at Sharjah Airport, International Free Zone, UAE,” he added.“Sub-agents were not identified by name, rather by unique codes. For example, Al Quoraishi was given the code number AGTUIQ-721.”Many of the retainer payments made to Al Quoraishi were sent in $36,000 bundles – as well as one $28,000 bundle which the prosecution said was directly authorised by one of the three defendants – Ziad Akle. The family connectionThe Al Kassim bank account – which Mr Brompton called a “vehicle for Unaoil’s corrupt payments” – was opened at Bank Meli in Dubai in 2009, and was administered by a man referred to only as “Mamoodi”.The owners of Al Kassim Technical Services have all been found to be connected to the Unaoil hierarchy, through various shareholding arrangements and investment firms.Muhammed Noor and Rafia Nooral Deen, who held a 40% stake, are the brothers of Basil Al Jarah – Unaoil’s country manager for Iraq who last year pleaded guilty to the SFO’s accusations of conspiracy to make corrupt payments.Noor was revealed to be the figure known as Mamoodi, who was responsible for administering transactions from the account.The other shareholder in Al Kassim was Pinnacle Finance Investment, a company in which the majority owner was Ata Ahsani – the founder of Unaoil whose two sons Cyrus and Saman were CEO and COO and have been subject to related criminal investigations in the US.Once the funds were released by the Al Kassim bank account, the money trail goes cold, although Mr Brompton insists there is little doubt as to its final destination.He said: “The evidence doesn’t reveal how the money reached its source, but it is clear the money was intended for Al Quoraishi.”The trial continues. The three men on trial in the SFO corruption investigationAkle, 45, was Unaoil’s territory manager for Iraq, and according to the prosecution was involved in “almost all the key events” relevant to the SFO investigations, holding a “very senior” position within the company.In all, he is said to have received more than $425,000 for his part in securing the two infrastructure projects that are the focus of the inquiry – supplier contracts for single point moorings (SPM) equipment, as well as oil pipeline upgrades, which were awarded to Netherlands-based SBM Offshore and Singapore-based Leighton Offshore respectively.Alongside him in the dock are Steven Whiteley, 65, who was Unaoil’s general territories manager for Iraq, and formerly a vice-president of SBM Offshore; and Paul Bond, 68, who was a senior sales manager for SBM Offshore.Whiteley is said to have received almost $11,000 for his role in helping to secure the SPM contract for Unaoil and its client SBM Offshore.No details were given about remuneration paid to Bond, but prosecuting lawyers maintain that while he “may not have known the detail of Unaoil’s dealings with Al Quoraishi, he knew perfectly well what was afoot and was happy to join in”.All three men deny the charges against them. The Unaoil investigation is tied to Iraq’s oil expansion after the fall of Saddam Hussein (Credit: Wikimedia Commons/US Navy/Lenny M Francioni) A complex and clandestine system of payments was used to help Unaoil executives hide evidence of bribery money paid to Iraqi officials, as it sought to secure lucrative oil and gas infrastructure contracts in the country, a court was told today (31 January).Intermediary companies, secret codes and family favours were all deployed to hide the trail of money between Unaoil and its agents in Iraq who were paid to influence the outcome of industrial tender processes for reconstruction work in the years following the US invasion.So said prosecutors for the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO), which is leading a criminal lawsuit against three UK nationals associated with Monaco-based energy consultancy Unaoil for conspiracy to make corrupt payments – forming part of a wider international probe into the company’s activities.Arguing the case for the SFO is Michael Brompton QC, who detailed the flow of cash from the top level of Unaoil’s executive team through to its “sub-contractors” – a reference to the intermediaries it allegedly paid to help it secure business for clients during a massive overhaul of Iraq’s oil and gas infrastructure in the post-Hussein years.He said: “The purpose of this subterfuge was to create a buffer between Unaoil and the corrupt payments. It meant that if, for example, there was an audit, Unaoil had a layer of protection.“The complex process by which Iraqi ‘sub-agents’ were remunerated demonstrates how senior Unaoil executives concealed corrupt payments.” UK fraud prosecutors have described the lengths to which Monaco-based consultancy Unaoil went to conceal payments allegedly made as part of a bribery operation in Iraqlast_img read more

Press release: Ambitious new Innovation Partnerships with African countries

first_imgFURTHER INFO AND NOTES TO EDITORSInnovation Partnership teamThe Innovation Partnerships will bring together UK teams and expertise across Government– providing a ‘one stop shop’ of UK excellence and tailored support.These teams link UK government departments leading on UK research and technology for development (including DFID, BEIS, DHSC), digital technologies through DCMS and link to future UK-Africa trade and partnership opportunities through the Science and Innovation Network and DIT.The team will explore a different area of research and technology, and work with different sectors in African countries to help the poorest to work and improve the trading environment.This is drawing on expertise from across Government to provide a comprehensive package of support and a place for idea exchange and partnerships.Digital tech expertsThe Kenyan and Nigerian teams will form part a wider network of ‘international tech hubs’, which already includes Brazil, India, Israel and South Africa.They will boost the UK and African digital sectors, help those in need of digital skills get access to training, fuel inclusive economic growth by supporting startups to grow, and facilitate new partnerships between UK and African tech firms.The teams will also address digital inequality by supporting the provision of digital skills programmes to poor and marginalised people, and making sure these are accessible to all, improving job prospects and allowing them to participate in the growth of their economies.This programme is about identifying and pairing businesses, venture capital, universities and providing access routes for British businesses and entrepreneurs to new markets. These business-to-business connections will encourage broader innovation, productivity and growth.The new programmes in Nigeria and Kenya – alongside the UK-South Africa hub announced in June – follow the success of the UK-Israel Tech Hub, which has generated £85 million worth of deals over the past five years, facilitated 175 linkups between the countries’ firms, and had a potential impact of over £800 million for the UK economy.Recent figures show UK tech and digital firms have seen their international trade grow by more than 20 per cent, with more than £39 billion in services exported in 2016, up from £32 billion in 2015.DFID tech acceleration programmeThe £32m accelerator scheme will:● Offer access to early stage commercial investment for entrepreneurs by facilitating connections between investors and companies, de-risking private investors and using competitions to encourage investment;● Build links between the UK and Africa’s cutting-edge tech sectors, develop networks, linking academics, innovators, entrepreneurs and investors between the UK and Africa;● Provide technical support for new technologies and business models to help early stage businesses scale their ideas;● Provide a focus on innovations which help the most marginalised, such as people with disabilities – and ensure female innovators also receive support;● Provide a channel for innovators to outline policy and regulatory barriers which are preventing growth so that local governments can address these challenges.Examples of new technologies which may be taken to scale from UK’s current research:● Frontier technologies (for example secure cash transfer).● New health technologies including diagnostics, drugs, and vaccines or satellite technologies to assist rural areas gain access to healthcare and veterinary innovations to protect livestock and combat antimicrobial resistance● Mobile technologies to provide farming tips, weather updates and market prices, improving agriculture productivity and nutrition outcomes and scale up of low cost weather stations and observational data coverage through public private partnerships● Scaling solar, clean energy and water technologies with innovative business models and linking UK expertise with African entrepreneurs, including electric cooking.Skills and entrepreneurship programmesTo help African entrepreneurs promote their ideas on the world stage, from 2019 we are inviting African innovators to apply for and participate in:● TeXchange, the flagship international exchange programme increases the flow of digital companies, ideas and technology between the UK and overseas markets;● Go Global, the international programme which aims to provide early stage startups with the tools needed to expand globally via the UK;● Founders and Coders, a tuition-free, peer-led learning programme that makes highest quality digital skills training accessible to everyone.The UK Government is also supporting the annual startup Edtech competition brings the most innovative 15 edtech startups from across the globe to compete for a $50,000 investment prize.Together this work will help the countries to develop and provide the next generation of ambitious Africans with the digital skills to succeed, while helping to support entrepreneurs in the UK and Africa to solve global issues.Notes to editors Emma Wade-Smith, Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Africa, said: I’m delighted to see these ambitious partnerships being driven forward in one of Africa’s most rapidly-growing sectors. We’re already seeing fantastic work being done to transform the UK and Africa’s shared entrepreneurial spirit into jobs and growth. In my role, I see first-hand the huge potential that Africa holds for British businesses looking to create modern trading partnerships. These new Innovation Partnerships will not only help countries turbocharge their development, but they will also promote the UK as the place to start and grow a digital business. Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya’s technology sectors are growing rapidly and generating a significant part of their economic output. This means huge opportunities for UK businesses and for future partnerships. New ideas, game-changing research and cutting-edge science are good news for our African partners and good news for the UK’s world-leading scientists, technologists and researchers who are representing the country on a global stage. The tech hub initiative is funded by the UK Prosperity Fund, aimed at removing barriers to sustainable and inclusive growth in middle income developing countries, where 70 percent of the world’s poor live. The technology accelerators are funded by DFID. The UK Prosperity Fund will also help to harness the potential of developing markets, boosting prosperity internationally, including for the UK through increased trade and investment. For more information call DCMS press office on 020 7211 6356. DIT launched their Export Strategy last week, with the ambition of increasing U.K. exports to 35% of GDP. The strategy will provide an offer for all businesses, including the 400,000 which the government estimate could be selling their products overseas but currently have no overseas operation.center_img Julian David, CEO of techUK, said: Africa’s economy is projected to grow by 3.2 per cent in 2018 and to a further 3.5 per cent in 2019, according to the latest 2018 World Bank report. Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa represent a significant part of that growth with technology increasingly underpinning these numbers. The decision to set up Innovation Partnerships and extend the tech hub network to these African nations shows the Government clearly recognises this opportunity. The decision will allow the UK tech community to engage with high-growth markets internationally, and in turn provide an important corridor for international communities to engage with our burgeoning UK tech sector. techUK looks forward to working with the UK Government to grow these Innovation Partnerships for the benefit of the UK tech sector, the host countries and beyond A series of ambitious new Innovation Partnerships between the UK and Africa are expected to stimulate significant economic growth and support the creation of thousands of new jobs.The partnerships, announced by the Prime Minister as the UK strengthens ties with the region, will be established in African countries with growing tech sectors where there are young, expanding populations with ideas and innovations developing at a rapid pace.Building on the UK’s already-strong investment in science and research in Africa, the partnerships will enable UK and African entrepreneurs to share skills and ideas, and encourage future trade.The increased engagement comes after the Department for International Trade announced the appointment of a dedicated HM Trade Commissioner to Africa. Emma Wade-Smith will now lead a team which will provide expert in-country investment and export advice for UK and African companies.The Innovation Partnerships are a unique opportunity for UK entrepreneurs to work alongside and collaborate with African entrepreneurs at the cutting-edge of technology. The UK has a lot to gain from this untapped market, and a lot to share with its own expertise.The tech sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in Africa. The continent’s startups raised 50 per cent more venture capital in 2017 than in 2016, and the majority of this is being invested in South Africa (£130 million), Kenya (£114 million) and Nigeria (£89 million).Nigeria and Kenya’s technology sectors are also growing rapidly and generate more than ten per cent and 11 per cent of their respective economic output.Technology can help transform societies by increasing economic participation and creating sustainable jobs and growth. It also increases the potential for countries to ‘leapfrog’ to the latest developments. This happened in Kenya where a small UK aid investment in a startup ten years ago led to the explosion of mobile-phone based money transfer service MPesa.Today more than half Kenya’s daily GDP goes through mobile money.The new plans will bring together the best of British science, research and technology to offer tailored support to businesses and entrepreneurs in sectors from health to farming. And in partnership with DIT and DfID, will also open up new trading opportunities for exporters by helping promote stability and creating strong new markets.The partnerships with South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria include:● Dedicated UK science, technology and innovation teams who will build on the strong existing science relationships with South Africa and Kenya, including through the shared investments in the Newton Fund and high-end research programmes like the Square Kilometer Array. The aim is to leverage all of UK’s investments in science and research and broaden this into the regions across Africa to achieve real impacts and support mutual interests● New regional tech experts in Kenya and Nigeria to build links between the UK and Africa’s cutting-edge digital sectors; support a wide range of startups to grow and create jobs; and help those in need of digital skills get access to training● A significant new DFID programme to accelerate the growth of promising technologies and support startups to grow sustainably, including through early-stage investment, connecting them with private financing, and building connections with UK peers● The rollout of digital skills and entrepreneurship programmes including TeXchange, Global EdTech Awards, Go Global and Founders and Coders programmes in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa, so the UK becomes the partner of choice for startups to expand internationallyDigital Secretary Jeremy Wright said:last_img read more

Fruition Bares Their Hearts And Souls On A Monday Night In Bloomington [Videos/Full Audio]

first_imgLoad remaining images Fruition showed their fiery Americana spirit for the fans at The Bluebird in Bloomington, IN last Monday night. While any band can be inspired to bring their best to a packed house of screaming fans on a weekend, it takes a special mindset to deliver the same on a Monday along a lengthy tour. Having just finished an epic run of shows opening for Greensky Bluegrass, Fruition was coming off a wild high that saw them wowing audiences of rabid music lovers and making new fans left and right. They brought that energy onto the next phase of their current tour, a decidedly lower key event that saw them bring that exact same level of passion to a decidedly smaller crowd in a frigid college town on a Monday night during midterms.Make no mistake, Fruition has had incredible success over the last few years. Their appearances on festivals coast to coast, on radio airwaves and nonstop touring schedule have built them an ardent fan base outside of their Pacific Northwest home. By the end of their show, a respectable crowd had gathered at the venue to be both amazed and pulled into an irresistible boogie by the sounds they laid down that night. Simply put, the display of energy this immensely talented and completely dedicated band showed a spirit that was more impressive than any sold out show played to crowds ten times the size.Guitarist and front man of the show opener Tom Hamilton and his band, American Babies, knows full well the dichotomy of playing larger and smaller shows in short succession. As a member of Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Hamilton regularly plays to massive crowds of rabid fans before hitting the smaller stages with his more personal project. He brought the same stellar fret board fireworks to the Bluebird stage that he did time and again to the main stages of some of the biggest fests and venues in the country and the fans in attendance loved him for it.His playing style has always had recognizable elements of the late Jerry Garcia, yet he manages to craft a sound wholly unique. The rest of his bandmates back him admirably, particularly his fellow guitarist Justin Mazer who matched Hamilton with his bluesy skills. While he stuck to his own compositions for the majority of the set, Hamilton  couldn’t resist putting his own spin on one of the tunes that dominates his other, higher profile gig, with a scorching take on the Grateful Dead classic “Deal.” The slowly building crowd was most receptive to the bubbling take on the tune, and crowded around the artist as he left the stage to offer high fives and thanks for his work priming the night properly.After Hamilton’s opening set, Fruition geared up for their headlining performance. The band has tirelessly toiled over the last decade to not only make a name for themselves as a performing act but to perfect the song writing skills that make their sound so satisfyingly unique. While all the members of Fruition contribute to the writing process in one form or another the three person front of Jay Cobb Anderson, Mimi Naja and Kellen Asebroek are credited with the lions share of the material. The work of these three arms the band with plenty of sonic weapons to be deployed to destroy minds and touch hearts.The venue steadily filled as the band played the first strains of the set opener, “Just One Of Them Nights,” a wry and winsome Anderson tune that makes a lonely and sorrowful mindset still sound like a pleasant moment of contemplation. The sweetness of their voices blended and the melodies from Naja’s mandolin work contrasted with the subject matter, elevating both by design. The band mixes and matches both tone and sentiment, deftly indicating an ability to imbue their music with emotional merit.Songs like “Random Lee” and “Above The Line” continued to prime the pump, but the first true watershed moment of the night was their most well known tune, “Labor Of Love.” Performed with a mad scramble of bodies crashing and thrashing around the stage, the energy coming from Fruition had a visible effect on the crowd as literally everyone in the house, including the noble tenders of the bar, managed to find a way to boogie down. With everyone on the same page the show got kicked up a notch with the heart of the order batting again.Our own Rex Thomson was on hand filming the fun, and has selected a cross section of songs from the evening to showcase the wide variety of sounds and styles that Fruition employs. What is most impressive about the band is the unity of purpose and identity that comes through, no matter who is singing and how heavy or light they are playing. A breathless ballad by Anderson sounds as much like a Fruition song as a rocking ode to illicit snuggling from Naja. That confidence was born of endless nights on the road, and it is well represented in the songs shared below.“I Can’t Stop”“Laydown Blues”“Mountain Annie”“There She Was”Though Fruition played right up to the predetermined cut off without leaving themselves time for a proper encore, the wild cheers and applause drew them back, with suitably humble words of thanks for the reception. Wrapping the night with a spot on take of Led Zeppelin‘s “Hey Hey What Can I Do,” the band hit the accelerator and gleefully burned what fuel they had left in the tank in full glory, leaving themselves literally gasping for air. They did this on a Monday night, just a day removed from playing to a far greater crowd in a much larger city.That level of commitment to purpose, of owning the pure intention of giving their all, night in and night out, is what has made Fruition the national touring act it is today. If they continue turning in performances like they have on this tour, it is what will lead them to one day becoming the “don’t miss” show that, to so many, they already are. Best of all, judging from their friendly time greeting the fans after a few moments to regain their composure, it will be a case of dedicated artists being rewarded for sharing their love.Listen to a wonderful soundboard of the show thanks to the band and their jack of all trades, Terry Lapointe, below:Setlist: Fruition | Bluebird Theater | Bloomington, IN | 2/13/17Set 1: Just One Of Them Nights, Random Lee, Above The Line, Labor Of Love, I Don’t Mind, I Can’t Stop, The Wanter, Blue Light, Laydown Blues, Mountain Annie, There She Was, Santa Fe, Fallin On My Face, I Should Be (On Top of The World), Stickshifts and Safety Belts, Meet Me On The Mountain, Boil Over, Misty Morning/Early Morning Wake Up, BentEncore: The Meaning, Hey Hey What Can I Do (Street Corner Girl)last_img read more

How much exercise is enough?

first_imgWe all know that exercise is good for you, but how good? While previous studies have shown the link between physical activity and a lower risk of premature mortality, the number of years of life expectancy gained among persons with different activity levels has been unclear — until now.In a new study from Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute, researchers have quantified how many years of life are gained by being physically active at different levels, among all individuals as well as among various groups having different body mass indexes (BMI).The study was published in PLOS Medicine on Nov. 6.“We found that adding low amounts of physical activity to one’s daily routine, such as 75 minutes of brisk walking per week, was associated with increased longevity: a gain of 1.8 years of life expectancy after age 40, compared with doing no such activity,” explained Harvard Medical School Professor of Medicine I-Min Lee, an associate epidemiologist in the Department of Preventive Medicine at BWH and senior author on this study. “Physical activity above this minimal level was associated with additional gains in longevity. For example, walking briskly for at least 450 minutes a week was associated with a gain of 4.5 years. Further, physical activity was associated with greater longevity among persons in all BMI groups: those normal weight, overweight, and obese.”Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital have quantified how many years of life are gained, by being physically active at different levels, among all individuals as well as among various groups with different body mass index (BMI). Courtesy of BWHIn pooled data from six prospective cohort studies, the researchers examined associations of leisure-time physical activity of a moderate to vigorous intensity with mortality. They analyzed data from more than 650,000 subjects and followed subjects for an average of 10 years, analyzing more than 82,000 deaths. The large sample size allowed them to estimate years of life gained after the age of 40 among persons with different levels of physical activity and BMI.The findings show that physical activity was associated with longer life expectancies across a range of activity levels and BMI groups. Participation in a low level of leisure time physical activity of moderate to vigorous intensity, comparable to up to 75 minutes of brisk walking per week, was associated with a 19 percent reduced risk of mortality compared with no such activity.Assuming a causal relationship, which is not specifically demonstrated in this research, this level of activity would confer a 1.8-year gain in life expectancy after age 40, compared with no activity. For those who did the equivalent to 150–299 minutes of brisk walking per week — the basic amount of physical activity currently recommended by the federal government — the gain in life expectancy was 3.4 years.These benefits were seen in both men and women, and among white and black participants. Importantly, they were also observed among persons who were normal weight, overweight, and obese. Participants faring best were those who were both normal weight and active: among normal weight people who were active at the level recommended by the federal government, researchers observed a gain in life expectancy of 7.2 years, compared with those with a BMI of 35 or more who did no leisure time physical activity (a 5-foot, 5-inch-tall person with BMI of 35 weighs 210 pounds).“Our findings reinforce prevailing public health messages promoting both a physically active lifestyle and a normal body weight,” explained Steven C. Moore, research fellow at the National Cancer Institute and lead author of this study. These findings may also help convince currently inactive persons that even being modestly active is ‘‘worth it’’ for greater longevity, even if it may not result in weight control.last_img read more

Students start Notre Dame disc golf club

first_imgWhile Frisbees are a common sight on college campuses, Notre Dame now has a club devoted to the game of disc golf. According to senior Michael Sizemore, president of the recently formed club, disc golf is a hybrid between Ultimate Frisbee and golf. It follows the rules of golf, but instead of using a club to hit a ball into a hole, players throw a disc into a metal basket. The object of the game is to get the disc into the basket in the fewest possible number of throws. Sizemore said Northern Indiana is a popular area for disc golf. “I’ve played probably 20 tournaments in the past year, and, with few exceptions, I’ve never traveled more than an hour or two to get to them,” he said. The disc golf world championships were held in South Bend in 1996, Sizemore said. There are a few courses in the nearby area for serious and beginning players. Rum Village Park is one such course, where Sizemore said the disc golf team frequently practices. He and the club recently helped renovate the park; they moved some of its baskets because there was damage from erosion. Bertrand County Park, another nearby disc golf park, is in Niles, Mich. Sizemore said it is older and shorter, and the cost of entry is $4. While there are several disc golf tournaments in the area, Sizemore said he hopes to schedule more. One event he plans to organize is called an “Ice Bowl.” This type of tournament is held during the winter months. “You can’t change the day no matter what,” he said. “Their motto is ‘no wimps, no whiners.’” He also said he also hopes to travel with a team from Notre Dame to the Collegiate Disc Golf Nationals in South Carolina. Sizemore said for beginning disc golf players, the rules are not difficult to learn, but the hardest aspect of the game is becoming familiar with the many types of discs.    “There are over 500 different types of discs, and each have a different flight pattern and can be thrown in a different way,” he said. For beginning players, Sizemore said he suggests getting a basic set of discs: a putter, a midrange and a driver. A putter disc looks like an Ultimate Frisbee disc, he said, while a driver disc is thinner on the edges and smaller in size. “That’s a little more dangerous; you can throw that a good long way,” he said.last_img read more

Asian Allure show combines Asian culture, showmanship

first_imgThe Asian American Association will host Asian Allure this Friday and Saturday in order to draw attention to Asian culture at Notre Dame. The show’s theme, “Step into the Light,” highlights the experiences and traditions of Asian students on campus, sophomore and director Eric Kim said.“Overall, our goal for Asian Allure, as an Asian community, is to bond,” he said. “[It’s] to continue to make that family. It’s to continue showing support for one another, through performance, through rehearsals.”The show aims to allow Asian students to connect with their cultures and educate non-Asian audience members about the culture, Kim said.“That’s what the theme ‘Step into the Light’ means,” he said. “Not only for the performers to literally step into the light, but also for them to showcase their talent and their appreciation for Asian culture. But in terms of the audience, I want them to see the light of how Asian culture is very diverse.”Asian Allure will feature over 20 student groups, Kim said. Sophomore Daren Sia, president of the Chinese Culture Society, said his club will perform a traditional water sleeve dance and a modern hot pot dance.“The hot pot song is just a really fun song to listen to,” he said. “When you look at people dancing to it, it looks like a really fun dance to do, so I wanted to do [it]. And I saw one of my friends perform it a while back, so I’ve always had a good opinion of it. With the watersleeve [dance], it’s something our club has done a lot in the past years, so I wanted to keep that tradition.”The event presents an informal way for participants to get to know people both within their clubs and in other organizations, Sia said.“In general, with Asian Allure, it’s a really great opportunity to get to know people within the different clubs,” he said. “ … It’s a great way to get to know the people in your club, to get more involved with it. It isn’t something that’s very serious, so you can afford to not feel that much pressure about it.”Sophomore Qiyu Zhang, a member of the Chinese Culture Society, also said she enjoyed the bonding aspect of Asian Allure.“I really like the cooperation between other peers at Asian Allure,” she said. “Last year — because I was a freshman coming in — I got intimidated, but that kind of helped me through a great transition because you really talk to people, get to know people.”Zhang said she hopes audience members leave the show with a better understanding of Asian culture.“I know sometimes if I take my friends to some Asian restaurant, some of them just refuse to try it because they feel like it’s too exotic or something,” she said. “So I feel like, especially with performances and music and dancing, it’s easier to get people together and appreciate different cultures.”Sophomore Mita Ramani, director of the Indian Association’s Asian Allure performance, said she hopes the audience recognizes how much the performers love their culture.“I hope they see how modern our culture can be because sometimes there a lot of misconceptions that Indian culture is very backwards, and it’s really not,” she said. “It’s really beautiful. It’s really colorful. It’s really modern.”Many of the students participating in the Indian Association’s performance have never danced before, Ramani said.“Helping them learn moves they’ve never done before or hand gestures they’ve never done before is definitely a challenge, but everybody’s been up to the challenge so it hasn’t really been difficult — it’s just been something to learn,” she said. “But it’s been pretty cool because I think everyone at this point kind of has it down and has had a lot of fun with it.”The event can help start dialogue and build common ground between students of different cultures, sophomore and treasurer of the Indian Association Jessica D’Souza said.“I feel like a lot of times when we talk about race or diversity, we talk about problems and ‘here’s what wrong with this’ or ‘here’s a struggle with that,’” she said. “But I hope for an hour or two people can come and just enjoy music and enjoy dance or enjoy song.“Having that experience of, ‘Hey, I really enjoyed this,’ or, ‘That’s got a really sick beat,’ just those moments make people more aware of the beauty in other cultures. … I think it’s small experiences like that, that help you start dialogue.”Asian Allure will take place from 7-9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday in Washington Hall. Tickets can be purchased in the LaFortune Student Center or at the door.Tags: Asia, Asian Allure, Asian American Association, Chinese Culture Society, Indian Association of Notre Damelast_img read more

Radon gas

first_imgGail Dobbs has never smoked. But last spring her doctor diagnosed her with lung cancer. With help from University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, the Walton County resident tested her home for radon and found her cancer may be caused by the air in her home. “Most people don’t think about radon, yet radon can have a major impact on you and your family’s health,” said Pamela Turner, a UGA Extension housing specialist. “Radon can seep into homes and contaminate the air inside.” More than 21,000 people die each year from lung cancer caused by radon. Georgia has the highest rate in the Southeast with 822 deaths last year alone. UGA Extension offices have radon test kits available for the public. In the past six years, 22,000 kits have been distributed. Since radon is heavier than air, test kits should be placed two feet to six feet above the floor in the center of a room. Bedrooms or family rooms are the best rooms to test. Children may be at greater risk of radon exposure. The radon level at a child’s breathing level is higher than that found at an adult’s. Radon is a cancer-causing radioactive gas that comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock or water. It is invisible, odorless and tasteless. Regions with a lot of granite have a higher risk for radon.“Most of the time, radon harmlessly dissipates into the atmosphere outdoors as it has for millions of years, presenting no major problems,” Turner said. “It becomes a problem when it finds its way into your house.”Radon gas collects in voids and air spaces under the foundation of a home and gradually enters through cracks or even through showers and drainage sumps, Turner said. Once it enters the living area of the home, the only way it can escape is through cracks and openings. Improved insulation in most new homes traps the gas indoors. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, all north Georgia counties have a moderate or high potential for radon. Cobb, Fulton, DeKalb and Gwinnett counties have the highest potential for it.”Radon is truly a silent killer,” said Becky Chenhall, a UGA Extension radon educator. “It is so easy to ignore because you can’t see, smell or taste it. The only way to know the radon level in your home is to test for it.”Radon test results will never be 0. The average indoor level is 1.3 pCi/L. Any test that measures 4 pCi/L or higher requires action. Nationally, one out of every 15 homes will have a high radon level. In north Georgia, one out of every five homes could have high levels.Back in Walton County, Dobb’s radon test level was 4.6. “She is taking steps to mitigate the level, not only for herself, but for her family too,” Chenhall said.center_img “We are saving lives by educating and motivating people to take action,” Chenhall said. “The bad news is radon causes lung cancer. The good news is that any radon problem can be fixed.”When required, mitigation systems can be installed. The gas can be safely released from the home by installing an inline fan and running a ventilation pipe from underneath the home’s foundation to above the roofline. Georgia currently has 12 certified radon mitigators trained to correct radon problems.For more information on radon or how to test for it, call your local UGA Extension office at 1-800-ASK-UGA1.last_img read more

Leadership Matters: Bringing strategy closer to your employees

first_imgHave you seen the Konica Minolta commercial, “The Royal Boss (2012)”? In scene one, a male professional reads a royal CEO proclamation (from a scroll for effect) to a female professional to recognize the CEO’s approval of her efforts and achievements to help the company succeed. In scene two, the CEO is carried by other professionals on two poles holding an executive chair while the CEO gives a distant gesture of thanks. And, in scene three, the elevated CEO is transported head-on into the ceiling “EXIT” sign.We laugh and replay the video before forwarding to our C-level buddies. Yet, in an offbeat way, we speculate if the distance between us and our managers and professionals might be comparable.As CEO, you want your credit union’s blueprint for success to be grasped, acknowledged, and implemented by all. It’s called many things – engaged, entrenched, buy-in – and all lead to one result: CEOs want their employees to own their role in credit union success.Yet, kick-off meetings, logowear for all, and a catchy acrostic often fall short. What works best when creating ways to engage employees in your strategic plan? continue reading » 7SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

How to reduce member churn in 6 days

first_img 15SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Chris Hall Chris Hall is very fond of the Internet and enjoys all aspects of digital marketing. He leads the inbound marketing and customer development efforts at Onovative, a company that believes … Web: www.onovativebanking.com Details One of the best ways to grow faster is to slow the rate at which you’re losing members, or slow your product churn. Churn is the percentage of members who leave a product or service over a given period of time. The end result is a percentage, so a low number is better. 100% churn would mean that you’re losing 100% of your members from a given product or service in a given timeframe. And that would be bad.Here is how to calculate basic churn at the product level for a given period of time:# Existing Accounts Closed During Period / # Accounts at Beginning of PeriodThink of product churn as a hole in your boat. When you calculate the rate of churn on each of your products, it will become painfully obvious where the biggest holes are in your boat. Depending on your overall strategy, the biggest holes can be a great place to start. Once you’ve identified a product or service to begin with, you’re going to want to start communicating with people. And if you’re able to communicate over these six, distinct days after account opening, you should be able to learn what you need to do to reduce your product churn for that product.So without further ado, here are the six days of communications you need in order to begin reducing product churn:Day 1 –  Account Opening SurveySending out a survey the day after account opening is probably the single most important thing you can do to start reducing churn. That’s why we’re doing it on day one of the product relationship. Surveying allows you to gain an understanding of your account opening process from the eyes of the member and catch problems early. This knowledge will ultimately help you streamline the account opening process, so this day one survey is critical.Day 2 – Account SpecificsPack everything the member needs to know about the account into this communication. And make sure that every detail is accessible. A great way to structure this communication is with an automated email that links out to key pages on your website with product details. But you can also pack everything into the communication for the member to save and reference over time.Day 14 – The Follow-UpYou should be thinking about following up two weeks into the product relationship. This can be over email or direct mail…but you just can’t beat the follow-up phone call for one big reason. The personal touch. Hearing the tone and inflection of the member’s voice on the other end of the phone as they talk through issues or needs is extremely important. Schedule a follow-up phone call and start grabbing all of that context, while further strengthening the bond between the member and their personal banker.Day 30 – What’s Next?We’re now a month into the product relationship and there are a number of “go-with” products that can and should be promoted. Be smart here. An auto loan is not necessarily a “go-with” product for a new checking account. But direct deposit, online banking, and bill pay are. Think of products that can enhance the member’s overall experience and only show them offers to products they don’t already have set up at this point in time.This is an easy level of personalization that shows you know and value each of your relationships.Day 60 – Ask for a ReferralIt never hurts to ask, and it’s a great time to ask for a referral after you’ve taken care of the member’s needs. It’s also a nice way to know where you stand with your members…getting a lot or very few referrals is telling, in and of itself.Throw an incentive for referrals into the mix and keep track of your conversion percentage over time. Similar to the survey after account opening, you can use referral percentages as a proxy to learn if you have deeper problems.Day 90 – First Cross-SellThis is the transition point into a perpetual, quarterly, or bi-annual cross-sell campaign. Keep in mind that your members are probably looking at your financial institution through a specific lens. If their primary relationship with you is through a loan, then they’re looking at you through a lending lens. Great cross-sell offers would be other lending products.However, if the member’s relationship is primarily deposit focused, like with a checking account, then other deposit products make great cross-sell offers. Feel free to mix and match your cross-sell offers throughout the year, but work to make them timely and relevant to each individual member.Start Reducing Churn TodayThese six days worth of communications over the first 90 days of the product relationship are crucial for reducing churn. We’ve built some best practice product onboarding schedules along with sample messaging that you’re free to download here.You can definitely send these communications out manually, or enlist the help of an automated communication platform to do your dirty work for you.Either way, here’s to a future with less product churn and more growth.last_img read more

Canada approves E coli vaccine for cattle

first_img Tony Milici, MD, PhD, GeneThera’s chairman, said in the statement that the company will launch phase 2 clinical trials shortly. “Our goal is to take the vaccine to market as soon as possible,” he added. Brett Finlay, a microbiologist at the University of British Columbia whose research led to development of the vaccine, said in an Oct 27 Bioniche press release, “If we block the colonization of cows by O157, we basically decrease the number that humans are exposed to, and thus, dropping disease levels in humans.” Bioniche is also positioning itself to market the vaccine to cattle producers in the United States, according to a previous report. In February, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) notified the company that the latest data on the vaccine met its “expectation of efficacy” standard, which allowed the company to pursue a conditional US license. The vaccine contains live attenuated bacteria developed by Edgar Boedeker, an internal medicine professor at UNM, and Chengru Zhu, formerly of UNM and now chief of environmental microbiology at the Maryland Department of Health, according to a GeneThera statement. The vaccine is designed to inhibit the carriage and shedding of enterohemorrhagic E coli such as O157:H7. ‘A missing link’Bill Clark, a nephrologist at the London Health Sciences Centre in London, Ont., said that an E coli O157:H7 vaccine isn’t a firewall against food contamination, according to an Oct 28 report from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). “I’m not sure any one solution will do it, and I certainly think people still have to be very careful with their food practices,” he told the CBC. Nov 3, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Bioniche Life Sciences, based in Belleville, Ont., announced recently that it received full approval from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to market the world’s first vaccine to reduce Escherichia coli O157:H7 shedding by cattle, a measure that could decrease contamination in meat and produce. E coli O157:H7 doesn’t sicken cattle but is potentially fatal to humans. It produces a toxin that causes diarrhea, often bloody, but usually no fever. Though most patients with E coli O157:H7 infections recover in 5 to 10 days, 2% to 7% develop hemolytic uremic syndrome, a potentially fatal form of kidney failure. The vaccine, called Econiche, will be produced at Bioniche’s Belleville facility, which is undergoing a $25 million expansion. The company said vaccine supplies would be limited during the expansion period. Oct 27 Bioniche press release about vaccine’s approval Oct 17 Bioniche press release about study of vaccine US company eyes cattle vaccineOn the same day Bioniche announced it had received full Canadian approval, a US company, GeneThera, Inc, based in Wheat Ridge, Colo., announced that it had signed an agreement with the University of New Mexico’s (UNM’s) technology transfer arm to license and distribute a cattle  E coli vaccine developed at the UNM Health Sciences Center. Smith DR, Moxley RA, Peterson RE, et al. A two-dose regimen of a vaccine against Escherichia coli O157:H7 type III secreted proteins reduced environmental transmission of the agent in a large-scale commercial beef feedlot clinical trial. Foodborne Pathogens and Disease 2008 Oct 1;5(5):589-98 [Abstract] Kym Anthony, a specialty beef producer in Clarksburg, Ont., said in the Bioniche press release that he has been using the vaccine over the past year under a conditional Canadian permit. “We’ve been trying to do our part to be an industry leader in food safety. The E coli vaccine fits into that,” Anthony said. “It’s been a missing link in the industry so far.” See also: The company said the vaccine could also be used in livestock at petting zoos and agricultural expositions to reduce bacterial transmission to humans. However, some producers may find the cost prohibitive. Rick Holley, a professor of food safety and microbiology at the University of Manitoba, told the CBC, “So long as these organisms don’t make the animals sick, you’re not going to see a great deal of incentive to move toward prevention.” The company did not list a cost for the vaccine, but officials previously told CIDRAP News that a course of the vaccine would likely cost less than $10 per head of cattle. As approved by the CFIA, the course involves three doses, but a study published in the October issue of Foodborne Pathogens and Disease showed that a two-dose regimen reduced the probability of environmental transmission of E coli O157:H7 within a large-scale cattle feeding operation.last_img read more